Psychology is a gratifying profession. Helping people to change is an awesome responsibility but it is also rewarding. I’ve been fortunate to have almost always worked with competent and motivated people. Working with that type of population is energizing and fun. It’s also energizing and fun to be able to share ideas on this website. There is no doubt, however that the past few years have been my most gratifying – as I’ve incorporated Positive Psychology into my approach and developed Goal-Achieving Psychotherapy.
There is no doubt that good therapists produce good results regardless of their orientations. With experience, the odds get stacked in our favor as we attract patients who know of us and want to work with us. However, my success rates have been greater and have been achieved faster in recent years. I’ve frequently been asked, especially by people who have had unsuccessful therapy experiences in the past, “Why does this stuff work so well?
My response is based on the belief that it is critical to get started on improving right from the beginning. Unlike some of the other therapies that are relatively new, we don’t reject the past, but we don’t belabor it. The key thing is to set goals, make changes, and practice good mental health behaviors that lead to growth and more change.
Dr. Martin Seligman, Positive Psychology’s founder and leading spokesperson, has written about how much more satisfying it has been to teach courses in his new field after decades of teaching Abnormal Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. A major source of that satisfaction has been the ability to reinforce his teachings through exercises that promote positive growth. There is no similar possibility in abnormal psychology. You can’t, ethically or practically, give students an exercise that encourages acting schizophrenic or paranoid – but you can give them exercises that focus on thankfulness, or savoring, or forgiving.
Meaningful homework makes students better, and working out makes individuals healthier. Similarly, practicing the concepts of mental health makes us mentally healthier. That is the way that I approach patients in my office and that is the way that I try to use the website productively – so that each of us can enhance our mental fitness by actively working on it in our daily lives. I hope that you are using the blogs, podcasts, and other information and finding them to be helpful. I’m convinced that “this stuff works,” and I’d like to hear what you think.